Norfolk’s newest affiliate starts their ramp-up to the regular season
Mercifully, the temperature is dropping in Norfolk to somewhere in the 80s most days. The cooler weather is a sign of hockey’s impending start in the seven cities. The Admirals will play their first game of the 2015-16 season in less than a month, as they host old ECHL rivals Wheeling.
Before any of that can start, the NHL’s training camps are starting in full swing. Norfolk is aligned with Edmonton this year. Most of the focus in Oilers camp will be on generational prospect Connor McDavid; a few Ads might be on the roster. Any player not an Oilers contract is considered an invite, including players like Ty Rimmer, who is on an AHL contract.
G Ty Rimmer, Bakersfield (AHL)
D Ethan Bear, Seattle (WHL)– Bear is an Edmonton draft pick but is not signed yet
D Loik Leveille, Cape Breton (QMJHL)- Amateur Tryout, should return to Cape Breton
F Matt Ford, Bakersfield (AHL)
F Josh Winquist, Bakersfield (AHL)
F Alexis Loiseau, Bakersfield (AHL)
F Marco Roy, Bakersield (AHL)
F Connor Rankin, Bakersfield (AHL)
F Cole Sanford, Medicine Hat (WHL)
F Braden Christoffer, Bakersfield (AHL)
Predictably, there is a glut at the forward slots. The AHL contracts at forward are especially important for Norfolk, because those players could make their way to Scope. Granted: some of those players will likely never come out east. Matt Ford is an AHL veteran who will most likely be a mainstay in the Bakersfield lineup without fear of demotion. Josh Winquist started in the ECHL last year before establishing a presence in the AHL which earned him a better contract.
By the virtue of numbers alone, Ty Rimmer is almost guaranteed to be playing at Scope opening weekend. The question is whether he starts Friday or Saturday, not when. Alexis Loiseau and Braden Christoffer are promising talents who performed well at this year’s edition of YoungStars, but their position in Bakersfield is not cemented. Where they play likely hinges on how well they perform for Gary Fleming at camp in Leduc as well as Bakersfield.
Marco Roy is by far the most interesting member of this group. Roy was a 2nd-round pick in the 2013 draft by Edmonton, and was not signed to an ELC. Roy signed his first pro contract last month with Bakersfield. 2nd round picks should stick in the AHL at first. However, his lack of an ELC may mean that Oilers brass has a bit of a “show and prove” attitude regarding his play. Roy could end up in Norfolk, but I think his talent keeps him in Bakersfield.
A name that was not mentioned but is of some importance is Philippe Cadorette. The rookie netminder is currently signed to an Admirals ECHL contract–and is in camp with the Lightning. Surprising, I know! While Edmonton owns the Admirals, players signed to Admirals contracts are not technically Oilers. This allows players freedom to move up to any team in the AHL if an opportunity arises. Such is the case in Tampa. Andrei Vasilveskiy is out with a blood clot to start the year, and Kristers Gudlevskis suffered a minor injury during rookie camp. Cadorette is with Tampa at camp to be an extra goalie, but he will eventually return to the Oilers system.
The next date of some importance is Bakersfield’s camp, which starts on the 27th. Bakersfield should put out a roster with a number of names that have an actual chance of making the Ads. Norfolk’s squad should assemble sometime in the short thereafter, as they play a preseason tussle with Reading on October 10th.